ICRC Visits Gitmo Early in Midst of Hunger Strike, New Controversy Over Drinking Water

On Tuesday, Carol Rosenberg reported that the hunger strike at Guantanamo prison camp has become serious enough that the International Committee of the Red Cross has arrived at Guantanamo a week earlier than had previously been planned:

Two delegates from the International Committee of the Red Cross, one of them a physician, are at Guantánamo this week in an accelerated trip moved up from next month to check out the ongoing hunger strike at the war on terror prison.

Red Cross spokesman Simon Schorno said Tuesday morning that the regularly schedule two-week mission was meant to start April 1.

“However, in an effort to better understand current tensions and the ongoing hunger strike, we have decided to start this visit one week earlier,” said Schorno.

Yesterday, the controversy at the prison expanded. Jason Leopold broke the news via Twitter that attorneys for some of the prisoners have filed an emergency court petition in response to claims that guards at the prison have cut off bottled drinking water and that the tap water prisoners have been told to drink is not potable. Leopold provided links to both the court petition and a declaration from a doctor for one of the prisoners. From the filing requesting an emergency motion:
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As if that is not punishment enough, the document continues on the next page (apologies, the form of the document I can access doesn’t allow lifting text, so I have to use images):
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The White House said Wednesday it was keeping an eye on the hunger strike at the Pentagon’s war on terror prison at Guantánamo and once again blamed Congress for its inability to close the detention center containing 166 captives.

“The White House and the president’s team is closely monitoring the hunger strikers at Guantánamo Bay,” Joshua Earnest, principal deputy press secretary, told reporters in response to a question.

Rosenberg went on to provide denials from a Guantanamo spokesman about the allegations in the court filing:

Separately, attorneys for a Yemeni captive made an emergency court filing on Tuesday night in Washington, D.C., alleging that guards at Guantánamo’s communal camp had denied two cellblocks bottled water since Sunday. The motion also claimed that the temperature in the prison were lowered to “extremely frigid” levels — claims the prison camps spokesman, Durand, denied.

Bottled water continues to be provided, Durand said, adding that tap water is potable at the prison called Camp 6 built of cement blocks at a site that once housed tent cities for Haitian and Cuba migrants. He added that, if Camp 6 captives feel cold, they can walk into the open-air recreation yards, where the temperatures this time of year reaches the high 80s.

“We are assisting the Department of Defense in preparing a response to these allegations via the Department of Justice,” Durand said, “but they are absolutely false.”

AP’s reporting on the situation carries a more extensive denial from Durand:

The U.S. government has not filed a response to the motion. Navy Capt. Robert Durand, a spokesman for the prison, said prisoners are provided with bottled water and that the tap water is safe to drink.

“It’s potable water. It’s the same water I make my coffee with and that they make lunch with,” Durand said. He also denied that there had been any change to the air conditioning settings inside the prison camps.

Complaints about water quality and access to bottled water during hunger strikes are not new at Guantanamo, as similar claims from prisoners surfaced in 2005. Durand had better hope that he is correct in his claims regarding water quality and water sources, since the ICRC has the expertise to test water quality and has a history of doing so at prisons, so there is an independent entity onsite now that can directly assess the accuracy of his claims. Will ICRC be given access to water samples?

15 replies
  1. What Constitution? says:

    Well, it’s a good thing all those people are bahd, bahd guys. Otherwise, we might have to feel a bit uncomfortable over these, well, “allegations” of mistreatment…. But hey — how’s Democracy blossoming elsewhere?

  2. P J Evans says:

    I suspect that Durand is telling the truth, as far as it goes, but far from the whole truth. Something like ‘they can walk into the open-air recreation yards’ – but only for five minutes at a time, once an hour. Or something like that. (They might be providing potable water, but in small paper cups.)

    Cynical? Maybe, but that seems to be the way to bet.

  3. liberalrob says:

    The White House…once again blamed Congress for its inability to close the detention center containing 166 captives.

    Lying bastards. Close the damn camps. You opened them without Congressional involvement, you can close them. Christ this is disgusting.

  4. P J Evans says:

    If the WH has the power to order drone strikes on anyone it decides is an ‘imminent threat’, then it has the power to close Guantanamo, release those who have been found to not be terrorists, and provide fair trials in actual courts for the others.

  5. bsbafflesbrains says:

    @P J Evans: If the WH released all the prisoners and dropped them off in Tora Bora the amount of evidence they had against them which landed them at Guantanamo would be enough to justify Droning them into oblivion based on the standards set forth in their policy statement, correct?

  6. thatvisionthing says:

    Later in the day yesterday, Rosenberg reported that the White House now claims to be monitoring the strike situation:

    Like when Obama asked Bradley Manning’s keepers whether keeping him naked and displaying him naked was appropriate, and was satisfied when they said yes? I can’t remember if that was before or after he was quoted in the press as saying Manning was guilty, thus compromising a fair trial conducted by Obama’s subordinates. These are grounds for impeachment if Congress could find its butt, and grounds for dismissal if the judge could find hers.

    I think of how appallingly crazy and mystifying this American era will look to future generations — the way we look back now at the Salem witch trials. About the same really.

  7. thatvisionthing says:

    What the judge ruled in Ellsberg’s case as he dismissed the charges:

    “The totality of the circumstances of this case which I have only briefly sketched offend a sense of justice. The bizarre events have incurably infected the prosecution of this case.”

    Let these people go.

  8. bsbafflesbrains says:

    @P J Evans: Don’t be sorry it did come out as a Palin word salad. I was trying to say the current policy regarding justification for killing a “suspected” terrorist is loose enough to have qualified most of the Guantanamo prisoners were they roaming free in tora bora instead of being tortured and starving in prison.

  9. Channel granny D says:

    The words of Granny D come to mind:
    Just as an unbalanced mind can accumulate stresses that can grow and take on a life of their own, so little decisions of our modern life can accumulate to the point where our society finds itself bombing other people for their oil, or supporting dictators who torture whole populations – all so that our unbalanced interests might be served.

  10. We're In The Money!! says:

    Nothing sez SUCCESS like Torture and Waterboarding !!!!

    Bangkok Post: The woman agent who ran a secret CIA operation to waterboard al-Qaeda operatives in Thailand has been selected as the first female to run the spy agency’s clandestine operations division.

    USA media reports from Washington said the woman was appointed earlier this month. It was yet another sign the Obama administration has adopted virtually all the anti-terrorist policies of the administration of ex-president George W Bush.


  11. P J Evans says:

    That’s what I though you were trying to get at – and I agree. I suspect half of Congress might qualify, including most (if not all) of the Republicans.

  12. Feature Not A Bug says:

    Keystone Public Comments Won’t Be Made Public, State Department Says

    The State Department is refusing to provide routine and timely public access to comments filed on its controversial Keystone environmental review.

    When the State Department hired a contractor to produce the latest environmental impact statement for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, it asked for a Web-based electronic docket to record public comments as they flowed in each day. Thousands of comments are expected to be filed by people and businesses eager to influence the outcome of the intense international debate over the project.

    But the public will not find it easy to examine these documents.

    A summary of the comments will be included in the final version of the environmental impact statement when it is released, said Imani J. Esparza of the Office of Policy and Public Outreach in State’s bureau of oceans, environment and science.

    But the only way to see the comments themselves is by filing a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a process that can take so long that the Keystone debate could be over before the documents are made available.

    The public will not be able to access the full electronic docket on line.


    (via http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/03/28/public-comments-on-keystone-xl-pipeline-to-be-kept-secret-by-state-department/)

  13. Just Never Ends says:

    DOJ Hid Routine Use of ‘Stingray’ Surveillance Technology from Federal Magistrate Judges

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) currently uses technology, which acts as a fake cell phone tower to track and locate phones being used by targets. Known as “Stingray,” the technology can locate, interfere and intercept communications.

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has uncovered evidence that the Justice Department has been hiding information on how often this device is used from federal magistrate judges.

    Stingrays are “highly intrusive and indiscriminate” … the technology can be used to obtain “information from all devices on the same network in a given area and send signals into the homes, bags, or pockets of the suspect and third parties alike.” Its capabilities clearly threaten a person’s privacy, especially if it is being used on that person without a warrant.


  14. This Took Guts To Report says:

    Afghan villagers flee their homes, blame USA drones

    The USA military is increasingly relying on drone strikes inside Afghanistan, where the number of weapons fired from unmanned aerial aircraft soared from 294 in 2011 to 506 last year. With international combat forces set to withdraw by the end of next year, such attacks are now used more for targeted killings and less for supporting ground troops.

    The Associated Press – in a rare on-the-ground look unaccompanied by military or security – visited two Afghan villages in Nangarhar province near the border with Pakistan to talk to residents who reported that they had been affected by drone strikes.


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